How call centers can fight extinction

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Some companies looking to lower costs could be tempted to downscale their operations in favor of AI (Artificial Intelligence). However, according to an outsourcing industry leader, it is the human touch that keeps customers loyal which makes businesses more profitable.

The demand for the outsourcing industry continues even though customer satisfaction has been declining.  According to Craig Raines, COO of Sitel, “The question has to be, how do you build a solution that drives the customer experience, that gets their issues resolved, process their transactions and doesn’t leave you.” Moreover, according to Raines, call center agents should upgrade their skills to cope with and work hand-in-hand with AI. More consumers are also starting to look for alternative channels such as email and chat.

Raines mentioned as an example that robots will handle the first stage of a customer call, then a human call center agent will enter the picture when necessary. And since millennials prefer to chat over other forms of communication, at some point they would still need to speak with call center agents. Call center agents, unlike robots, can go the extra mile and can understand them clearly. A very good example is Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, which cannot fully comprehend customers’ questions and requests. The human emotion is the biggest and most important value-add for call center agents. It serves as the main difference between robots and call center agents.

The BPO industry has around 1.15 million employees in the Philippines. According to data, the industry has added 100,000 jobs yearly from 2010 to 2016.

In this shift towards Artificial Intelligence, we have to adapt and better our skills by rethinking the customer experience journey. We have to move quickly to ride the wave of automation and not get left behind.

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